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but it is of infinite importance, that they should possess durable riches and righteousness beyond the grave. It is of little importance whether they are intimately connected with the high or the low in this life; but it is of infinite importance that they should be intimately connected with the general assembly and church of the first-born in heaven. It is of little importance whether God smiles or frowns upon them while they are journeying to the grave; but it is of infinite importance that they should obtain a peculiar nearness to him, and communion with him, as long as they exist beyond the grave. Christ abundantly taught and inculcated the duty and importance of men's being more solicitous to lay a foundation for their future, than for their present happiness. He says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” And again he said, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” After those serious admonitions and injunctions, he puts the solemn question to every one's heart and conscience, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” 4. If the grave be the house appointed for all the living, to which they are constantly tending, then there is reason to think that the longer any have lived, the nearer they stand to it. As soon as we come into the world, we are constantly going out of it. Though mankind walk in ten thousand different paths, yet every path they pursue leads directly to the grave, which is the house in which they must all lodge at the end of their wearisome journey. Though they often imagine, when they are young, that their path does not lead to the grave and though they often imagine, when they escape some imminent danger, or recover from a painful and threatening sickness, that they are travelling from the grave; yet every step they take carries them nearer and nearer to their long home. While the young, the healthy, and the robust are going round the graves of others, they are rapidly going to their own. Those in the morning of life are going as fast towards the grave, as those in the meridian of life; and those in the meridian of life are going as fast towards the grave, as those in the decline of life; and all are going as fast towards the grave as the wings of time can carry them. But the longer any have been travelling towards the grave, the more reason they have to think that they stand at the very door of their dark and dreary mansion. If the aged will only seriously look back, and number the days, and months, and years, which have rolled over their heads, they cannot resist the conviction, that they must soon exchange life for death, and time for eternity. How long and how often has God reminded them that the grave is their house ! How many have fallen on their right and on their left, whom they have seen laid in the dark and silent tomb! How greatly has God favored them with long life and precious seasons and opportunities to prepare for a peaceful and happy death ! The aged ought to view themselves, as they are viewed by others. Others view them as shocks of corn fully ripe, and completely fit to be cut down by the sickle of death. The important question now is, are you prepared for the solemn scenes before you? In the first place, are you willing to commit your bodies to the dust? Dust you are, and unto dust you must return. The grave is your house, and you must occupy it. Though you have often gone round the graves of others, yet you cannot go round your own. It was a consolation to Job that he should certainly commit his body to the house of silence and of rest. He says to himself, “If I wait, the grave is my house.” Though God should pass by him again and again, and take others before him as he had done from time to time, yet he consoled himself with the confident belief that his turn would certainly come, when his weary body should rest in the grave. This was a happy preparation for his dying hour. And none can be happily prepared for the same event, without being willing to commit their bodies to the dust, the universal lot of mankind. In the next place, are you willing to commit your spirits into the hands of him who gave them, and go alone into etermity? When your bodies return to the dust from whence they were taken, your spirits must necessarily ascend to God, and meet his sovereign disposal. God has made you for himself, and has a right to dispose of you for himself; and you cannot go out of the world in peace, unless you are willing that he should dispose of you for himself, and to his own glory. He has already determined where you shall be, what you shall be, what you shall enjoy, or what you shall suffer, through endless ages. And you must be willing that he should do his pleasure and fulfil his purpose, or you cannot be happy in any part of the universe. Have you carried your thoughts not only to the grave, but beyond the grave, into that world where you must take up your everlasting residence 2 Have you desired to be absent from the body, that you might be present with the Lord? Such views and desires are necessary to prepare you for a peaceful and happy death. Such views and desires Job had. He knew that his Redeemer lived, and would take care of his precious and immortal spirit, after his body had crumbled to the dust, and become food for worms. Such views and desires David had. He humbly and confidently said to God, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” And such views and desires pious Simeon had, who said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.” Such views and desires we have reason to hope she” had, who the last week found her silent and peaceful house of the grave. She had lived a great many years, and gone through a vast variety of checkered scenes of prosperity and adversity. She was weary of life, and desirous of death. She said very lately that she enjoyed clear and happy views of God and divine things. This is a ground of consolation to her christian friends and to her pious relatives; and, at the same time, is a kind and solemn admonition to her children and grand-children, to prepare to follow her, and to meet her in that world of rest where they have reason to hope all tears are wiped from her eyes. The aged have fallen in thick succession, in the course of a few months past. These instances of mortality speak louder than words, and solemnly admonish those who are bending under the weight of years, and stooping over the grave, to prepare to go the way of all the earth. Though the death of the aged is of little consequence to the world, who are often very willing to spare them, yet death is of the highest importance to them. Their long lives will draw after them the most serious and interesting consequences as long as they exist. The scenes through which they have passed, the instructions they have received, the parts they have acted, the good they have received, and the evils they have endured, will form a source of reflections which will never cease to afford them pleasure or pain to all eternity. Death is not only drawing nearer and nearer every day, but becoming more and more important. Whatever the aged have to do for themselves or others, they have to do immediately; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither they are going. Though those in the morning and meridian of life may view their lives very important, yet God may view them otherwise; and though they may imagine it is necessary for them to live, God may view it necessary for them to die. And if he does, they must die. But are you ready ? If not, you have no time to lose in getting ready. You know not what a day may bring forth. Your parents may die, but you must die. Your contemporaries may be spared, while you are taken. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” Plead not the busy season as an excuse for delay.
AND the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified. — DANIEL, w. 23.
THE prophet Daniel was carried to Babylon early in life, and lived there during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar. He interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and instructed him in the true knowledge of the true God, which his son Belshazzar must have once known, but did not choose to remember. His father Nebuchadnezzar had publicly professed, in the most explicit and solemn language, his firm belief in the only living and true God. “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, and extol, and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those who walk in pride he is able to abase.” Though Belshazzar had heard this solemn declaration of his father's faith in the being, perfections and government of the true God, yet he disregarded it, and stupidly bowed down to dumb idols, which could afford him no relief in a day of danger and distress. While he was feasting, and carousing, and worshipping his golden É. in contempt of his Creator and Preserver, he saw the
ngers of a man's hand, writing his fearful doom on the wall of his palace, which filled him with consternation and horror. He called for the astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers, to read and explain the writing; but they could not read it, nor make known to the king the interpretation of it. This enhanced his anxiety and distress. But his queen soon relieved his mind, by advising him to send for Daniel, who had interpreted his father's dream. He complied with her advice, and sent for Daniel. When he came, he first reminded the king how the God of heaven had punished and humbled his father for his ambition and gross idolatry, and then reproves him for following his father's sins, and disregarding his awful fate. “And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thy heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven, and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” Though Belshazzar was a heathen, yet he ought to have known and realized his absolute dependence upon God, in whom he lived, and moved, and had his being. And hence we may justly conclude, that all men ought to maintain a realizing sense that God is the preserver of their lives. I shall,
I. Show that God is the preserver of their lives; and,
II. That they ought to realize it.
I. I am briefly to consider, that God is the preserver of the lives of men. He is certainly the giver, and of consequence the preserver of life. We cannot conceive that God can give mankind independent life, any more than independent existence. Life is sustained and preserved by secondary causes; and all the secondary causes of the preservation of life are under the entire control of God, who can make them the means of destroying, as well as of preserving life. All the elements, the air, the earth, the water, and the fire, which serve to preserve life, may be and often are employed by God to destroy it. It appears from the whole course of providence, that God constantly carries the lives of all men in his hand. And this truth is plainly and abundantly taught in scripture. God is called “the fountain of life.” Job calls him “the preserver of man.” David says, he is the preserver of man and beast. Daniel tells Belshazzar, “the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” And Paul declares, that “ God that made the world, and all things therein, giveth to all, life, and breath, and all things.” The Bible every where confirms the declaration, that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being;” which implies that all mankind are constantly and entirely dependent upon ‘God the giver and preserver of life. The preservation of life amounts to a constant creation, and is the effect of the oiling power and goodness of God. I now proceed to snow,